The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation

The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation

The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation

The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation


The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation is a comprehensive study of the behavior of political actors in the international oil market since 1971. In this study, Dag Harald Claes seeks to answer the question of what determines the cooperative behavior among oil-producing countries, and he also shows the benefits of approaching an empirical topic from several levels of analysis. Claes provides a case study demonstrating the problems of collective action in international politics, and he discusses multi-level approaches in studies ofinternational relations, and international political economy.


What determines the cooperative behavior among the oil-producing countries? That is the question this book seeks to answer. The cooperation between the oil producers has been the topic of many studies in the field of energy economics. This study approaches this well-known topic from the theoretical field of political science, in particular from the subdiscipline known as International Political Economy (IPE). The study is based on the view that understanding the cooperation between oil producers is a question of understanding interactions of politics and economics.

Three analytical beliefs guide the study. First, the economic models of the oil market are not sufficient in understanding the cooperative behavior of the governments of oil-producing states. "Oil, unlike other commodities, has a universality of significance which in the real world places limits on the application of economic rationale to the evolution of the industry" (Odell 1996:38). The economic models are valuable but need to be supplemented by models and approaches that are capable of integrating an understanding of the policies of oil-producing states and the economic factors of the international oil market. This study provides such an approach.

Second, our understanding of the oil producers' behavior, and for that matter most aspects of international politics, will increase if we are able to understand the dynamic relationship between factors at different analytical levels. To grasp how different factors interrelate, more complex models are required. This study thus applies a multilevel approach in explaining the cooperative behavior of oil-producing states (Rosenau 1990).

Third, this is a study of the policy of oil-producing states, not a testing of their behavior against models of optimal economic behavior. Nor is it a historical study revealing new empirical facts. It is an example of what Bates et al. (1998) calls "analytical narrative." This study is "motivated by a de-

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